Hydrogen Energy – Powering Climate Neutrality

Falling Walls Circle Tables are lending the spotlight to world-leading scientists, science strategists and policy-makers from academia, business and politics discuss how we can apply science, research and innovation to get the world moving again.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the world’s energy system must change dramatically to combat climate change. In this Falling Walls Circle Table, the panelists discuss the role that hydrogen energy could play in this energy transition, and the hurdles that this fuel faces.

Hydrogen carries great amounts of energy, and doesn’t produce greenhouse gases or other pollutants when it is burned. What’s more, it can be produced using ‘green’ techniques, either from renewable energy, or fossil fuels. This could allow for energy storage, and for renewable energy to be transported from where it’s produced to where it’s needed. This has wide ranging applications, including industry and transport. For aviation, “this is probably the biggest transformation that our industry has ever seen,” says Glenn Llewellyn.

However, hydrogen energy faces many challenges. These include technical hurdles in every stage: production; storage; transport; and efficient use. But there remain substantial social challenges, too, from the need for policies that can support hydrogen energy’s growth, to public understanding and acceptance of a still relatively unknown technology. But the panel agrees that if these challenges can be overcome, hydrogen could play a central part of our energy future.

Daniel Oberhaus is a staff writer at Wired covering space exploration and energy. His first book, Extraterrestrial Languages (MIT Press, 2019), is about the art and science of interstellar communication. He writes about AI and mental health at Strangemind.io He was previously the news editor at Motherboard.

Peter Wasserscheid is head of the Institute of Chemical Reaction Engineering at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) and director of the Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nuremberg for Renewable Energy, a part of Forschungszentrum Jülich. Peter studied chemistry at the RWTH Aachen and finished his PhD in 1998. After a six-month industrial postdoc with BP Chemicals in Sunbury (UK) he returned to the RWTH Aachen where he completed his habilitation in 2002. In 2003, Wasserscheid took up his current position at the FAU, the director position for the Helmholtz Institute added in 2014 to his duties.

The key research interests of the Wasserscheid research group centre on catalyst material development and reaction engineering aspects of multiphase catalytic processes. Worldwide, the team belongs to the top research teams in developing chemical hydrogen storage using Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier (LOHC) systems. The group develops this technology for stationary and mobile applications. These efforts include catalyst and reactor developments, systems design and engineering as well as the development of larger scale demonstrators.

His research efforts have earned him a number of awards including the Leibniz Award of the German Science Foundation and two Advanced Investigator Grants of the European Research Council in 2010 and 2018.

Program Director, Materials for Clean Fuels Challenge Program
De Luna was named to the 2019 Forbes Top 30 Under 30 – Energy list and was a finalist (1 of 10 worldwide) in the $20M Carbon XPRIZE. He holds a PhD from the University of Toronto in Materials Science & Engineering where he was a Governor General Gold Medalist. He is a member of the board of directors of CMC Research Institutes, a carbontech non-profit, and member of the OECD Advanced Materials steering committee. He is also a Mission Innovation Champion for Canada, an Action Canada Fellow, and a Creative Destruction Lab Mentor.

Glenn Llewellyn is VP, Zero Emission Aircraft at Airbus. He is responsible for all company-wide hydrogen, hybrid and electric-propulsion research focused on bringing zero-emission flight to reality.

Electrification and electric-propulsion technologies are disrupting the aeronautics industry, enabling aircraft manufacturers like Airbus to rethink overall air vehicle design. Glenn leads Airbus teams working on electric-propulsion-powered flight demonstrators and eVTOL demonstrators, including Vahana, CityAirbus, and E-Fan X.

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